Feature Image: Making the most of your visit

Making the most of your visit

The Reading Rooms are open under COVID-19 Alert Level 2. See our COVID-19 page for more information.

Use the tips on this page to help you make the most of your valuable research time. Use our great collections and resources. You can access our resources from home, or come into the library.

On this page

Tips for researchers and visitors to the Library

Planning some research? Use our online resources or visit us to get started. The following tips will help you make the most of our collections and resources.

We are a reference library

It's important to understand that we aren't a public library. We are a reference library. You can use collection items in our reading rooms but not take them home. However, many items in our collections can be borrowed by interloan through your local library.

Interloaning from our collections

We are also a closed stack library, meaning our collection storage areas cannot be visited by the public. So it is important to use our catalogue and other resources to help you find what you want.

Read this page to find out more about finding material to help you with your research.

Check our opening hours

Before you come check our opening hours. Making sure we are open when you want to conduct your research is essential getting off to a good start.

Reading rooms hours
Monday to Friday — 10am to 5pm
Saturday — 9am to 1pm

National Library hours
Monday to Friday — 9am to 5pm
Saturday — 9am to 1pm

Remember we are not open on public holidays.

Register as a Reader

Some collection items are available for reference use in the Reading Rooms, and other materials can be ordered in, several times a day.

Registering as a Reader is essential to be able to request collection items. If you are planning a visit you can register online before you leave home. This can be a great time saver and allows you to request material and have it waiting for you when you arrive.

Bring some photo ID when you visit the library.

Registering and requesting

Check our collection delivery times

Not all our items are stored onsite at the Library and advance notice may be required for particular items. Collection items are brought to the Reading Rooms throughout the day Monday to Friday. We don't deliver material on weekends.

If you are ordering items from our collections for your visit on Saturday, plan ahead and order them before 4pm on Friday. Orders made on Saturday won't be delivered until Monday.

Collection delivery times

Check availability of the collection

Sometimes, items in our collections are unavailable. By checking the online catalogue in advance, and requesting material before your visit, you can ensure that it will be here waiting for you when you arrive.

Some Alexander Turnbull Library collections have access restrictions and require permission to be viewed. Access restrictions are noted on the catalogues. There is a process for requesting access to an item if it is restricted. Timeframes vary depending on the type of restriction. So keep this in mind when you are planning your visit.

Access to restricted collections

Find collection items right now

The Library has collected New Zealand and Pacific material for decades, to provide you with an unparalleled resource for research. We are constantly adding to the collections through donations, bequests, purchases, and Legal Deposit. Many collection items — including lots of images, newspapers, and music tracks – are available by searching on our website.

Search the collections and our catalogues to find the records of material you want to view in the Library. Getting the information before you come saves time and helps you narrow down what you’re looking for.

You will need to be in the Library to view some digital material, including restricted images and oral histories.

Research with our digital content from home

National Library collection

The National Library collection holds nearly everything published in and about New Zealand and also has large Pacific collections. The collections include books, magazines, microfilm, videos, databases and more.

National Library catalogue
National Library collection

Alexander Turnbull Library collection

The Alexander Turnbull Library collection is built on the original documentary collections of Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull and includes many unique published and unpublished items from throughout New Zealand’s history.

Available material includes books, maps, serials, newspapers, music, websites, oral histories, manuscripts, photographs, paintings, and more.

Tiaki — Turnbull Archival Collection catalogue
Alexander Turnbull Library collection

Searching on the National Library website

Not sure how the search options work on the National Library of New Zealand website? Have a look at this video for some great tips.

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fx93LeZNbk&feature=youtu.be
  • Transcript

    Visual

    National Library logo and url natlib.govt.nz

    Audio

    Music plays


    Visual

    People entering the National Library building on Molesworth St, Wellington

    Audio

    Haere mai and welcome to the National Library and Alexander Turnbull Library


    Visual

    The National Library website landing page. The cursor selects the ‘Collections’ tab, then scrolls down the Collections page, before clicking on the National Library Catalogue link.

    Audio

    At the Library we have two distinct collections. First we have a published collection, which includes a copy of almost everything published
    in Aotearoa New Zealand.


    Visual

    The National Library catalogue. The cursor clicks in the search box.

    Audio

    This includes books, magazines, newspapers, sound recordings, maps, web-sites and much more. These items are all listed in The National Library of New Zealand Catalogue.

    We also have a collection of unpublished items, including manuscripts, diaries, letters, drawings, oral histories and more.


    Visual

    The National Library website Collections page. The cursor clicks on the Tiaki link and is taken to the homepage for the Alexander Turnbull Library catalogue for unpublished collections page. The cursor clicks in the Title search box.

    Audio

    These items are all listed in Tiaki, the Alexander Turnbull Library's catalogue for unpublished collections.


    Visual

    The National Library catalogue homepage. The cursor clicks on the collection search drop-down menu and selects Index New Zealand.

    Audio

    As well as these two catalogues, we also have several other databases.


    Visual

    The National Library catalogue. The cursor clicks on the collection search drop-down menu and selects Index New Zealand.

    Audio

    including Index New Zealand which contains abstracts and descriptions of articles from New Zealand magazines and newspapers.

    Visual

    The Papers Past webpage.

    Audio

    And Papers Past which is a text-searchable database of digitised newspapers, magazines, letters, and more.


    Visual

    The National Library website landing page. The cursor clicks on the magnifying glass search icon. The search box drops down. The cursor clicks on more search options.

    Audio

    If you want to search all of these databases at once, so you can find everything that we have on your chosen topic the best place to start is by using the search
    function on our website.

    You can do a basic search, and advanced search options are available by clicking on More search options.


    Visual

    A page of search results for the term birds, the cursor scrolls down the page demonstrating the various filter options. The cursor then clicks on the view gallery tab at the top of the page.

    Audio

    Once you have done your initial search you will notice a whole lot of filters become available on the left. You can click on these to filter your results by
    specific criteria, including format, date range, subject and others.


    Visual

    A page of search results the term bird, displayed in gallery view. The cursor clicks on the gallery view tab which shows the search results as images. The cursor scrolls down the page. The cursor clicks.

    Audio

    You will also notice some tabs along the top. These allow you to view your search results in other ways including a gallery-style view of digitised images,
    and also a map view.

    Once you have found something that you are interested in, you can click on it to view a fuller record.


    Visual

    A catalogue record for an image of huia birds including a larger version of the image. The cursor scrolls down the page to demonstrate the extra metadata. The cursor clicks on the See Original Record button. A tiaki catalogue record for the same image.

    Audio

    This will include a bit more information about the item. If you then decide you would like to view or listen to this item. If you then decide you would like to view or listen to this item you will need to open the record in its native
    database by clicking See original record.


    Visual

    The collections page of National Library website. The cursor clicks on the Ask a Librarian icon. The contact details section of the National Library website.

    Audio

    If you have any questions or need help, please contact us by clicking Ask a Librarian or by phoning 0800 474 300.


    Visual

    National Library logo and natlib.govt.nz

    Audio

    Sound of static.


    Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we'll fix them: digital-services@dia.govt.nz

  • Transcript

    Visual

    National Library logo and url natlib.govt.nz

    Audio

    Music plays


    Visual

    People entering the National Library building on Molesworth St, Wellington

    Audio

    Haere mai and welcome to the National Library and Alexander Turnbull Library


    Visual

    The National Library website landing page. The cursor selects the ‘Collections’ tab, then scrolls down the Collections page, before clicking on the National Library Catalogue link.

    Audio

    At the Library we have two distinct collections. First we have a published collection, which includes a copy of almost everything published
    in Aotearoa New Zealand.


    Visual

    The National Library catalogue. The cursor clicks in the search box.

    Audio

    This includes books, magazines, newspapers, sound recordings, maps, web-sites and much more. These items are all listed in The National Library of New Zealand Catalogue.

    We also have a collection of unpublished items, including manuscripts, diaries, letters, drawings, oral histories and more.


    Visual

    The National Library website Collections page. The cursor clicks on the Tiaki link and is taken to the homepage for the Alexander Turnbull Library catalogue for unpublished collections page. The cursor clicks in the Title search box.

    Audio

    These items are all listed in Tiaki, the Alexander Turnbull Library's catalogue for unpublished collections.


    Visual

    The National Library catalogue homepage. The cursor clicks on the collection search drop-down menu and selects Index New Zealand.

    Audio

    As well as these two catalogues, we also have several other databases.


    Visual

    The National Library catalogue. The cursor clicks on the collection search drop-down menu and selects Index New Zealand.

    Audio

    including Index New Zealand which contains abstracts and descriptions of articles from New Zealand magazines and newspapers.

    Visual

    The Papers Past webpage.

    Audio

    And Papers Past which is a text-searchable database of digitised newspapers, magazines, letters, and more.


    Visual

    The National Library website landing page. The cursor clicks on the magnifying glass search icon. The search box drops down. The cursor clicks on more search options.

    Audio

    If you want to search all of these databases at once, so you can find everything that we have on your chosen topic the best place to start is by using the search
    function on our website.

    You can do a basic search, and advanced search options are available by clicking on More search options.


    Visual

    A page of search results for the term birds, the cursor scrolls down the page demonstrating the various filter options. The cursor then clicks on the view gallery tab at the top of the page.

    Audio

    Once you have done your initial search you will notice a whole lot of filters become available on the left. You can click on these to filter your results by
    specific criteria, including format, date range, subject and others.


    Visual

    A page of search results the term bird, displayed in gallery view. The cursor clicks on the gallery view tab which shows the search results as images. The cursor scrolls down the page. The cursor clicks.

    Audio

    You will also notice some tabs along the top. These allow you to view your search results in other ways including a gallery-style view of digitised images,
    and also a map view.

    Once you have found something that you are interested in, you can click on it to view a fuller record.


    Visual

    A catalogue record for an image of huia birds including a larger version of the image. The cursor scrolls down the page to demonstrate the extra metadata. The cursor clicks on the See Original Record button. A tiaki catalogue record for the same image.

    Audio

    This will include a bit more information about the item. If you then decide you would like to view or listen to this item. If you then decide you would like to view or listen to this item you will need to open the record in its native
    database by clicking See original record.


    Visual

    The collections page of National Library website. The cursor clicks on the Ask a Librarian icon. The contact details section of the National Library website.

    Audio

    If you have any questions or need help, please contact us by clicking Ask a Librarian or by phoning 0800 474 300.


    Visual

    National Library logo and natlib.govt.nz

    Audio

    Sound of static.


    Any errors with the transcript, let us know and we'll fix them: digital-services@dia.govt.nz

Free and subscription online resources

Expand your research into national and international databases and have a look at free and subscription online resources available from the library. This gives you access to a wide range of journals, magazines, and other electronic publications.

Some resources are only available from inside the Library Reading Rooms, but you can get search results and abstracts before your visit.

Free and subscription online resources

Use our research guides and other research resources

We've got lots of great material that can help you with your research. They include:

Need research advice

Want a hand getting your research started? Need one more ridiculously obscure item to finish it up? Staff at the Library can help you out when you visit, or you can ask right now with the Ask a Librarian service.

Send us your research query, however general or specific, and you’ll get a response from the most suitable staff member within 10 days.

When you visit the Library, you’ll be able to talk to research specialists who can help you hone your enquiries and find the right material. You can have a full research interview or just ask a quick question. We are happy to help.

Ask a Librarian

Making copies

If you've found material that is useful for your research you can make research copies of most items unless they need protection due to copyright or fragility.

You can use your digital camera, or ask our staff for help making copies.

Making copies
Reusing objects from the National Library website

Take a break while you're here

You might want to take a break from your research while you are here. Check out our events and exhibitions. You could also catch up with friends at the National Library's cafe — HOME.

Events
Exhibitions
HOME — cafe

Need help

We know there is a lot to take in. If you need help with any of our services or collections contact us through our Ask a Librarian service or phone us on 0800 474 300.

Ask a Librarian

Haere mai

We hope you enjoy your visit.